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The Best Real Estate Apps

Technology is one of the most helpful tools that real estate agents and buyers alike can use. Apps, in particular, have made the process of buying and selling property easier than it has ever been. Today everyone has a phone in their pocket which makes looking at real estate listings very accessible. However, it’s still important to use the right apps—especially if you spend money to download the app. Below is a list of some of the best apps that you can use when searching for a home.

Zillow

Zillow is one of the most recognizable and respected names in real estate, so it’s no surprise that their mobile app is worth downloading. Their app is actually the most popular real estate app that’s currently available. With the app you get all of the features that are found on the site, including maps and price estimates. An increasing number of users have realized how beneficial the app is, and the company receives a lot of traffic from its app.

Doorsteps Swipe

The idea of “swiping” has become popular in the world of online dating, and now it has reached the real estate industry. You enter information about the type of house you’re looking for, and the app presents you with photos. When you find a home you like you swipe right to get more details. Doorsteps Swipe is a fun way to look at available homes.

Realtor.com

Realtor.com is another big name in the real estate industry. The company makes a point to keep the information on their app as up to date as possible since so many buyers use mobile phones today. When using the app you will find everything that the site has to offer, but it’s presented in a format that’s easier to use on your phone.

Dwellr

Dwellr isn’t exactly a real estate app, but it’s very useful when it comes to purchasing a new home. The U.S. Census Bureau controls the app. It features just about every neighborhood statistic you could possibly want to know. You can use the app to enter information that you find important when it comes to living in a neighborhood, and the app will tell you how well the neighborhood matches your criteria.

 

 

What To Do After Buying Your First House

What To Do After Buying Your First House

You just bought your first house. Congratulations! Buying a house can be an arduous process, and when you reach the end of it, you probably feel like celebrating. However, before you plan a party there are a few important details that you must take care of. Keep reading to learn more.

Change The Locks

First and foremost, it’s a good idea to change the locks. You don’t know how many people previously lived in the house over the years, so you don’t know how many sets of keys are floating around. Change the locks before you move in when it’s still empty. That way you won’t have to worry about anybody entering your home and stealing your possessions when you’re not there. While it might sound paranoid, as the saying goes, “It’s better to be safe than sorry.”

Hold Off On The Remodeling

You probably have a lot of ideas for how you will change your new home. Yet before you make any major changes, take some time to just live in the space and get a feel for it. It might turn out that the remodeling ideas you initially had in mind aren’t necessary. There’s no point in rushing to spend money that can be put you use in better ways.

Save All Of Your Documents

Throughout the entire home buying process, there are numerous documents you sign. Make sure you hold on to everything—especially any document that is related to your mortgage. Keep all of your documents in a safe place like in a safe deposit box at a local bank. Be sure to make copies that you can keep at home as well.

Say Hi To The Neighbors

It’s important to make a good impression on your neighbors since you’ll be living right next to them for the foreseeable future. Even if you don’t end up becoming friends with your neighbors, it’s important to get to know them in case of emergencies. Plus good neighbors look out for one another. You’ll want people to pay attention to any suspicious behavior when you’re not around, and then you can do the same for them.

Watch the Windows

Before you move anything into your new home, make sure people can’t see in. It’s likely that the previous resident took all of the curtains with them. You’ll probably prefer to move your stuff into your new home in privacy. Rather than purchase curtains visit a thrift store and buy blankets or towels to hang up. Once you’ve moved everything in you can go shopping for real curtains.

Tips for Becoming a Real Estate Agent

Tips for Becoming a Real Estate Agent

Becoming a real estate agent can prove to be quite a lucrative experience if you are fond of engaging in property matters and persist in expanding your knowledge of your local real estate market.

While there are many training programs that you can get to be a part of in order to learn what it takes to be a good real estate agent, there are some tips that you ought to keep in mind to be a natural success in this profession.

Get your Real Estate License

The first thing that you need to do is to acquire your real estate license. Study for your real estate exams and get the qualifications that you need in order to be able to buy and sell property on people’s behalf.

Ensure you have an Alternative Income

The second step that you must take if you want to become a real estate agent someday is to ensure that you have backup income options. It can take you quite a while to find clients who will actually buy the properties that you wish to sell.

Until you do, you need to have an alternative source of income with which to pay your bills, as there isn’t any point in going broke in your efforts to become a realtor.

Look for a Good Mentor

Getting hold of a good mentor is also absolutely essential if you want to make your mark as a professional in the real estate industry. You should be on the lookout for a broker who has years of experience in the field and who can give you the guidance that you need to make your first sale and consequent sales thereafter.

Make Sufficient Use of Internet Marketing Platforms

Learn to make good use of the internet if you want to be a successful real estate professional. Nowadays it is difficult to come across clients through newspapers and magazines, and chances are far higher if you look for them online. Clients will also need to find you, and they’ll likely use the internet to conduct their search.

You should log onto the different real estate marketing sites that are online and create profiles in order to be able to offer your brokerage services to interested customers. You can also create your own website to attract potential clients to the various properties that you wish to sell.

Keep the above points in mind, and you will be able to eventually achieve success in the real estate business.

2017’s Top Real Estate Markets

2017’s Top Real Estate Markets

Last year cities like New York and San Francisco received a lot of attention for the rising cost of rent and mortgages. However, this year those markets may see some relief and may even experience less growth than usual. In general home prices have returned to the levels seen before the 2008 financial crisis. Yet some areas, like the West and the South, have recovered faster than others, which means their real estate markets are in better shape than most of the country.

In order to determine which cities will see the most home value growth in 2017, Zillow looks at three variables (Visit this site to learn more about their process). Keep reading to find out which cities will have the best home value growth in 2017.

Nashville, TN

Nashville, TN is best known for country music. Yet this year it will also be known as the hottest real estate market. One of the biggest factors driving growth is the healthcare industry which is the largest industry in the area. Zillow predicts that the city will see a 4.3% growth in home appreciation value.

Seattle, WA

Second on Zillow’s list is one of the biggest cities in the Pacific Northwest. Housing prices are rising in part due to tech behemoth Amazon. The city is beginning to experience the same sort of issues that have plagued San Francisco in recent years—rising housing costs are making it difficult for non-tech workers to live in the city. Here’s a recent article that discusses how the rising costs are pushing millennials out of the city.

Provo, UT

Zillow’s top ten list actually features three different Utah cities. Provo ranks above the other two, though. What’s driving home values in Utah? A low unemployment rate for one. Utah’s cities have the lowest unemployment rates compared to the other cities on the list. Provo is also home to big companies like Nu Skin Enterprises and Novell.

Orlando, FL

Walt Disney World’s home base is estimated to experience a 5.7% increase in home value appreciation in 2017—the largest increase on Zillow’s list. This situation is a fantastic turnaround for Orlando. Just two years ago it was at the top of another list—the most home foreclosures in the country. Although wages are lower than many other cities, jobs are plentiful and unemployment remains relatively low.

To learn more about what to expect in 2017 real estate trends, take a look at this informative article from MarketWatch.

 

How to Choose the Right Real Estate Agent

How to Choose the Right Real Estate Agent

When it comes to buying a house, there is a myriad of decisions you need to make. You have to consider your budget, the neighborhood, and how much money you may need to use for remodeling. One of the most important decisions you make, though, will be choosing the right real estate agent. The right real estate agent will make your home buying experience smooth and easy. On the other hand, picking the wrong real estate agent can make the experience much more frustrating. Below are some of the ways you can be sure to select the right real estate agent for you.

Recent Clients

Talking to a real estate agent’s past clients is one of the best ways to find out whether you should work with a particular agent. Most real estate agents are willing to provide potential customers with a list of customers from the past year. You can speak to past clients and compare their asking prices with their sale prices. It’s also helpful to know how long their homes were on the market.

Licensing

It’s a good idea to make sure your potential agent is properly licensed. Most states have boards that license and discipline agents. You’ll likely be able to find this information online if you do some research.

Consider Their Awards

Awards are signs of success—especially if they are given by fellow real estate agents. One particular award to look out for is “Realtor of the Year” which is given by the National Association of Realtors.

Pay Attention To Credentials

Many agents have letters like CRS or ABR after their names. These letters represent additional training that the agent has acquired. (CRS means Certified Residential Specialist and ABR means Accredited Buyer’s Representative.) The additional education that your agent gained may benefit your home search, so take the time to look into agents’ specialties.

Look For Experience

In general, the more experience an agent has the better he or she will be at finding or selling your home. Don’t be afraid to ask an agent how long she has been helping customers. While experience is important, keep in mind that other factors like familiarity with the neighborhood where you plan to buy are important to consider as well.

Listings

The easiest way to find an agent’s listings is by doing an online search. Before agreeing to work with an agent, make sure that she is comfortable using the internet. Today most buyers begin their house search online, so an online presence is very important. An agent’s listings will also give you an idea of the overall health of their business.

5 Tips for Selling Your Home

5 Tips for Selling Your Home

If you don’t plan and prepare accordingly then selling your home can become more difficult than it has to be. Below is a list of tips that will help you avoid headaches and sell your home quicker. Keep reading to learn more.

The Price Is Right

Once you know the value of your home you should consider lowering your asking price by 15 to 20 percent of the value. You are likely to receive numerous bids over the price that you ask. While this is one of the best strategies to sell your home, most sellers avoid it because they think it’s too risky. If you are determined to sell your home as quickly as possible, though, it’s definitely a strategy you should consider.

Empty Your Closets

Every buyer is looking for a house with ample storage space. You can give them what they want by eliminating clutter in your closets. Put what you don’t need in storage and organize everything else. Most buyers will explore your closets, so it’s imperative that you keep them tidy.

Let There Be Light

The amount of light in your home can be the tipping point for some buyers. One thing is certain, though, if your home doesn’t have good light you will find it more difficult to sell. If you have heavy drapes hanging up, take them down. Clean every window. Make sure the light bulbs you use are high wattage and clean or buy new lampshades. You should do everything in your power to make your home bright and inviting.

Find The Right Real Estate Agent

Take your time when searching for a real estate agent. If you don’t jive with your real estate agent, then the selling process will cause more headaches than it should. In today’s market, it’s important that you find a real estate agent who is comfortable with technology. A real estate agent who uses technology has more tools at his or her disposal to get your home sold.

Hide The Dog And Cat

Animal lovers should keep in mind that some buyers don’t share their love. The truth is that some buyers will think your house is unclean if they see a food bowl or smell the cat’s litter box. When you have an open house send your pets to a friend’s house or a pet hotel. Clean up any sign that pets live in your home (pet toys, pet hair, etc.), and you won’t turn off potential buyers who don’t like four-legged friends.

More Tips

The real estate agent that you hire will have a lot more tips that you can use to sell your home. In the meantime here is a Reader’s Digest article with more home-selling tips.

3 Tips for Homeowners

3 Tips for Homeowners

The prospect of a new home is exciting. It’s the start of a new chapter. It’s the reward for all the time you spent saving for that burdensome down payment. You deserve to enjoy your new home, but you should know—the down payment is just the beginning. As a homeowner, your bills increase seemingly exponentially as maintenance costs, community fees, and mortgages rear their ugly head.

Fear not. The three tips below will help you cope with your increased fiscal obligation in no time:

Draft a new budget.

Chances are your mortgage payment is considerably different from your previous rent payment. So, of course, you need to come up with a new budget; but keep in mind, there’s more to it. What about electricity? What about heat? If your previous place was 1,000 square feet, and your new house is 2,000 square feet, it only makes that your utilities are bound to drastically rise as well, if not double.

Consider everything when you draft a new budget, and leave a margin for error if possible. Track your expenses for a few months so you better understand how your costs have truly changed. So many unforeseen costs often arise that the only way to get a real handle on personal finance is to make note of it and objectively analyze it.

Money is not some free-flowing abstract concept. It’s a tangible and measurable asset. Treat it as such.

Prepare to spend money on maintenance.

This may sound similar to what I said above. It’s not. What I said above is draft a new budget, leave a margin for error, and recognize your costs will increase. Now I’m saying prepare yourself to spend money on maintenance—a lot more. In fact, most homeowners cite spending as much as one to four percent of their homes’ value on repairs and upkeep every year.

So if you have a $400k home, it’s not unreasonable to spend anywhere from $4k to $16k on general maintenance. Plus, if you have more major costs (like replacing a shoddy heating system, for instance), your costs could be even higher.

Be ready for increased property taxes,

Property taxes come from the assessed value of your house and your local tax rates. When you first purchase your new home, you will be advised of your current property tax obligation. However, this does not, by any means, imply your property tax will remain at that number.

In actuality, property taxes often increase from year to year. In 2000, local governments generated about $247b in property taxes. In 2010? It was $476b, even with the housing crisis at the time.

Make sure you account for these increases in your budget. Since’ it’s quite literally impossible to guess if and how much property taxes will increase every year, the only way to protect yourself is to leave extra room in your budget.

Buying a home is incredibly exciting but can be tremendously stressful. Manage your finance and your comfort with these tips.

Tips for Millennial Home-buying

Tips for Millennial Home-buying

As the real estate market continues to recover with regards to pricing, many millennials are increasingly looking toward homeownership. The National Association of Realtors stated, “for the third straight year, the largest group of recent buyers were millennials.” This trend is not going anywhere.

As millennials age, they will only become more pervasive in the real estate market. It is the responsibility of agents and real estate firms the nation over to plan for this and make the transition as seamless as possible for many of these first-time homeowners. Listed below are three tips agents should keep in mind when guiding young prospective homeowners through one of the most important decisions they will ever make:

Find out what they need and why they need it.

The vast majority of prospective homeowners have a fairly concretized idea of what they’re looking for. That said, when they are seeing property after property after property, it is easy to lose sight of these initial parameters.

Distractions are inevitable, and that’s why it falls to the agent to keep customers moving forward towards a property they will truly come to love. Although this is difficult, implementing a Buyer’s Guide can tremendously facilitate the process. It will put both agent and buyer on the same page. That way, they have a solid foundation grounding their search and can present a unified front when they find the right property.

Provide supplementary resources.

All agents realize there are costs outside of the listing price that prospective homeowners must account for. However, first-time home buyers may not be so cognizant of the fact. This lack of understanding can, at times, lead to friction between the agent and his or client. That’s why providing supplementary resources vastly benefit the agent-customer relationship.

It helps the clients to put his or her trust in the agent. It is a means of verifying credibility, and although, at first, this may seem cumbersome (if the customer is double-checking everything that is said), it in fact cements a formidable relationship between the agent and customer. After the customer in question realizes the agent is actually an expert in his or her field, they will be more inclined to let them take on a greater role in the home-buying process. The agent and client become partners working towards the same goal, as opposed to two competing entities vying for the most profit.

Clarify the contract.

After the agent and client find the right property and make an offer, the contract can potentially cause friction due to miscommunication—and I’m not just referring to the listing price.

While of course the listing price is probably the most significant factor in the contract, it is by no means the only factor. There is a whole slew of obligations the homebuyer is committing to, and it is of the utmost significance they realize that.

In order to do so, don’t let the first-time homebuyer sign without understanding the contract in its entirety. Many times, contracts are so full of confusing vernacular and vague language that first-time buyers are inhibited from fully understand the text before them. Agents should rectify this by thoroughly reviewing the contract with their client and answering any questions they may have. Ensure they realize the extent of their obligations by being there for them and not letting impulsivity overcome rationality and objectivity.

This will provide an enjoyable and satisfying home-buying experience for first-timers and veterans alike.

Why Homeownership Matters

Why Homeownership Matters

There has been nearly countless articles in the press lately concerning the decline of homeownership, how Millennials aren’t settling down as early as baby boomers did, and how the American dream is different today than it was even just twenty years ago. What is not being covered is what this actually means. Sure, there’s a decline in homeownership. So what?

This is what. Homeownership matters—and people want to be homeowners. In fact, nearly every survey of consumers regarding the American Show unanimously concludes that people desire to own. More specifically, 87% of those asked in the Housing Opportunity and Market Experience said that homeownership is part of their American Dream. It’s true—not all said they want to own right now, but they did say they want to own at some point in the future when the time is right.

Moreover, sustainable homeownership has been proven to help accumulate wealth. For example: “a typical homeowner’s net worth was $195,400 while a renter’s was $5,400 as of 2013.” Put into perspective, this essentially translates to an average homeowner being ahead of a renter by a multiple of 45 on a lifetime financial achievement scale. By the way, these numbers are a median, not an average, which is better indicative of reality because that means the numbers are not skewed by incredibly wealthy home-owning families. So, clearly home-owning is good for the individual, but it’s also good for the economy as a whole.

Typically, Americans do not see their first home as their only home, meaning they are likely to sell in 7-10 years from the date of purchase. They want to improve, and they want their home to reflect this. By consistently purchasing and selling houses, these homeowners are contributing to economic growth and job creation. All of those expenses inherent in selling a home (lawn care, remodeling, new furniture, mortgages, moving costs, realtor fees) help our economy. When you pay your mover, then they can pay for something when they eat out, or go see a movie, or buy clothes, which contributes to the local economy. Homeownership benefits everyone financially, but, really, it goes even beyond that.

There’s social incentive too. An abundance of research suggests that children of homeowners perform better in school than the alternative (children of renters). They score higher on tests. They are less prone to antisocial behavior. There are less inclined to commit crime, and less likely to use drugs or abuse alcohol. Looking outside of the home, there’s even further social benefits.

Homeowners have been proven to be more involved in community civic engagements, taking a greater role in local elections. They are more present in volunteer work. There are even health benefits to homeownership. While this may be due to increased self-control and self-worth as is proven by various academic studies, that is still no reason to discount the correlation.

Homeownership matters. The above is only the beginning of why. We should react to this incredible and unfortunate decline in the real estate market, and we should act fast.

What to Ask Your Realtor

What to Ask Your Realtor

Putting your home on the market is an emotionally and financially draining time, to say the least. We want to make good decisions, get the right price, and do so without any major hiccups along the way. That’s where the right realtor comes into the mix. But, who is the right realtor? How do we identify the right realtor? Well, there’s a number of questions you can ask prospective agents to sift through the incompetent and the insincere ‘realtors’ to find the right one who will stand by you, not against you.

What is your experience/expertise?

Although, granted, experience alone doesn’t automatically guarantee skill, it can be a heavy indicator. The vast majority of agents with years of experience (not months), good reviews, and a decent education will likely have the skills to make selling your home as seamless as possible. Find out if he or she sells houses full time or part time. How many homes did they sell last year? How many people do they represent? Ask thorough and meticulous questions to truly get an idea of who you’re working with (or potentially working with).

Are you a part of a member organization?

Ensure you select a certified agent who is able to provide proof of credentials. Asking prospective realtors if they are members of an organization like the National Association of Realtors will give you the confidence you need in order to move forward. Additionally, if the agent in question is indeed part of the aforementioned organization or something of the like, that means they have previously agreed to abide by said organization’s rules and regulations.

What is your marketing strategy and specific plan to sell my home?

Both online and offline marketing tactics are of incredible significance in reaching the right buyer. Delve into your prospective agent’s specific strategy: how many pictures are they going to post online? Will they be taken by a professional photographer? Will there be a video? Should you stage your home for the photos? There are so many components of marketing, and in order to ensure you are putting your best forward and getting the best price possible, you need to go over these details with a fine comb, plain and simple.

Can you provide at least three references from satisfied past clients?

This is potentially one of the most important questions you can ask. If the realtor can provide these, then they will be happy to do so. A satisfied customer is the single best sign of a realtor who knows what they’re doing. It means they saw the process through the end, and even after business was completed, they maintained their professional relationship. A happy client means a competent realtor.

Selling your home is confusing enough. Don’t complicate things by adding an inexperienced agent to the mix. Ask the above questions to know who you’re dealing with and to make selling your house as easy as possible.